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The Great Unwatched: Who’s Tuning into the Lords? Not Many, According to Viewing Figures

Even the key showdown over the Illegal Migration Bill in the chamber had just 6,000 views

Lords are mostly talking to themselves. Photo: PA/Alamy

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Just 1,100 people a day tune into House of Lords debates on Parliament’s website – little more than the 800-odd peers who can vote on our legislation, this newspaper can reveal.

Figures obtained by Byline Times through Freedom of Information show that of 100 Lords recent days of debate analysed, the average session was watched just 1,130 times – and that is counting a ‘view’ as just one frame seen by the viewer.

The most watched session since November 2022 has been the Illegal Migration Bill debate on 10 May – but even then the day’s debates were seen a mere 6,105 times. 

One day of debate had just 531 views, on 3 March this year. That day, the Lords debated key issues including legislation on a new protection from redundancy law and the Carer’s Leave Bill.

A Lords source claimed that the average viewer of House of Lords business in the chamber on Parliament Live watches for between 20 to 30 minutes. 

But Tom Brake, director of campaign group Unlock Democracy, said the figures were “desultory”.

“They highlight two things: distrust in politics generally and disgust in recent appointments to the House of Lords specifically,” he said. “Only once sleaze and corruption have been eliminated can we expect interest in Lords’ business to improve.” 

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A House of Lords spokesperson told Byline Times that viewing figures on Parliament Live will “vary depending on the level of public interest” in the issues debated. They denied that the viewing figures were “small” and that those who do watch online only do so briefly. 

“Parliament Live is only one way to keep up to date with business in the House,” the spokesperson told this newspaper. “Some business is now streamed on social media with more than 1,000 people watching a recent question on housing policy on Twitter. Highlights of business are also posted on YouTube, where they often receive thousands of views. Many will also prefer to read debates in Hansard.”

The spokesperson said Parliament Live and other platforms provide a “vital service” in ensuring the public can keep up-to-date with the work of the House of Lords as it undertakes “vital work scrutinising legislation and holding the Government to account”.

Byline Times has previously revealed that 52 members of the House of Lords hold interests in the fossil fuel industry – a 20% increase from this time last year. Forty peers have shareholdings of more than £50,000 in oil, gas, coal mining and pipeline companies and fossil fuel-focused energy firms.

Peers are entitled to vote on UK laws for life and can claim up to £323 tax-free per day of attendance.

Boris Johnson recently appointed a batch of half a dozen new peers in his resignation honours – including his former special advisors Ross Kempsell, 31, and Charlotte Owen, 30. 

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